Hayley Kiyoko On Expectations, Touring With Panic! At The Disco And European Tour Plans

28 June 2018, 13:05

Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko. Picture: Atlantic Records
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

A brief chat with Lesbian Jesus™ on her upcoming tour with Panic! At The Disco, 20GayTeen and her long-delayed plans for a European tour.

It's been a long road to Expectations, the debut album by 27-year-old singer songwriter Hayley Kiyoko. After brief stints acting in Disney shows and performing in the girl-group The Stunners, it took several years before she would release her first solo EP, A Belle to Remember in 2014. But even after all the hard work, not even Hayley could have predicted the platform and influence that she would soon come to have as an outspoken artist from the LGBTQ community.

After a period of struggling to find her voice as an artist, and feeling pressured to have gender-neutral lyrics in her songs, she had a break through with 'Girls Like Girls' (2015), an unapologetic gay anthem about a "girl stealing another guy’s girl”. Hayley wasn't just coming for your man though, she was paving her own path to becoming a queer icon for our time, so much so that her fans now affectionately refer to her as Lesbian Jesus.

2018, or 20GayTeen as Hayley renamed it (much to the internet's delight), has proved to be another turning point in her ascendency to greatness; Expectations went top 20 earlier this year, she's supporting Panic! At The Disco on a mammoth US tour and there's a new acting role on Facebook Watch show Five Points. We caught up with Hayley over the phone to get the tea on her life post-album release, her very exciting idea for the Panic! tour and we ask when she will *finally* make it over to Europe for some shows.

PopBuzz: Hi Hayley, how are you?

Hayley Kiyoko: I’m well. How are you guys?

Great thanks. Where in the world are you right now?

I’m in Indiana.

Is everything good in Indiana?

Uh... I haven’t gone outside yet but I’m sure it’s great.

Lol. We last spoke to you before Citrine EP came out and presumably your life has changed a lot since then. How would you describe the journey since then?

It’s definitely been a while. I’ve been really focussed on writing my album for the last couple of years, shooting music videos and getting all the creative together since I was last with you. Obviously, it’s out and I’m touring now so there’s been a lot of growth and it’s really exciting.

You seem so busy. Do you get an opportunity to do normal life stuff?

Well, for me, this life is normal. But I get to see my friends and find time to go for walks and write in my journal and take time for myself. It’s hard though.

Hayley Kiyoko - 'What I Need' feat. Kehlani

Let’s talk about the 'What I Need' video. Tell me about the process behind making the video.

It was such a great experience. It was a lot of fun but very challenging. I feel like with every music video [we make] something always happens and you have to try to improvise. We lost footage one day and we had to do reshoots, then Kehlani pulled her ankle running, so a lot went down for the video to happen. But we did it.

What was it like working with Kehlani?

It was wonderful, and we get along so well. She takes direction excellently and so it was a really good partnership of her understanding on the weekend and really trusting me. She trusted me, and I totally appreciated that. I respect her a lot as an artist, and I was definitely confident but nervous, because I really wanted her to have a good experience.

People are already asking for a sequel following your characters in the video, so I was wondering what you think would happen in the next chapter of the characters storyline?

I can’t tell you that! I don’t know I’d have to brainstorm. But I’m still glad that everybody loves the video because my goal was for it to feel like a little short film.

So, you will at least think about a sequel then?

[laughs] Yes, I will think about it.

That’s good enough for me. I think this song is the fourth to be lifted from the album, will you be releasing any more singles and videos?

Yeah, I just want to keep pushing out the album and obviously my dream would be to do a video for every song but you know, that’s in a dream world. But I’m looking to shoot more videos to put the music out there and let more people discover it.

Is there any track in particular you’d love to make a video for?

I’d love to do a video for Mercy/Gatekeeper. That could be really cool.

via GIPHY

A brilliant choice. You’ve received a lot of endorsements from some huge stars lately, like Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello, and I wondered whether you felt like you were finally being embraced by that world - the big league popstars?

For me, I’ve always just wanted an opportunity to be seen and to be heard, so to have people recognise my album or listen to it means the world to me. Any form of support from anyone is appreciated because I feel like it’s been a very long journey and I’ve kinda felt like a bit of an outsider in that sense. It’s nice to have people take a moment and listen.

You must be excited about supporting Panic! this summer. Were you a big fan before?

Yeah, I’m a big fan of Brendon. He’s so talent – a multi-talented guy – and I’m looking forward to being a part of his tour and getting to experience that.

If you were to jump up on stage with Brendon, is there any particular Panic! songs you’d like to sing with him?

I think it could be cool if we did a mash up my ‘Girls Like Girls’ and his ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’.

I’m so into that idea. Please make that happen.

I will do my best.

I’ve spoken about 20GayTeen with a lot of queer artists this year and they all love it, so it feels full circle to speak about it with you. Did you expect it to blow up in the way it did?

No, I didn’t. I thought it was a clever idea, but I didn’t think people would gravitate towards it so much, so it’s been fun to play with it. Life’s all about having fun moments and so it’s nice to get to share that with people.

What are your favourite moments from 20GayTeen so far?

I mean, for me – selfishly – it’s releasing my album and getting to share that with everyone. Also, being on tour and getting to meet everyone for the first time, that’s been a really awesome experience.

Will there be any European tour dates coming? I know your fans are super eager to see you over here.

I know! They’re so mad at me! I’m trying – it’s not as easy as everyone says it is. It’s like, you’ve got to be really big to get over there but I’m doing my very best to get over to you to make that happen. Hopefully that will happen within the next year.

We’ll do everything we can to plug the Hayley train to help the cause.

Yeah, just jump on!

Hayley Kiyoko's debut album, Expectations, is out now. You can stream it over here.